Keeping nano saltwater fish tanks is challenging due to their inherent complications. For example, it is much harder to keep the parameters stable in a small saltwater aquarium due to the tiny amount of water volume, leaving little room for error. Then, there are the challenges of finding fish species that are appropriate for a small aquascape. Fortunately, though they aren’t talked about that often, there are a handful of saltwater fish species out there that are perfect for nano tanks. These fish are not difficult to obtain, as you can always request your local fish store to get them in or even purchase them online. This article highlights a few of them.
White-spotted Dwarf Gobies – A Great Captive Bred Nano Saltwater Fish
This first fish only reaches an inch and a half in size and has a very docile temperament. The white spotted dwarf goby offers stunning coloration and loves to hide within the rock structure. You usually see them perched on the rocks as they dart from spot to spot around the aquarium. These gobies readily eat frozen food. They can also be trained on flakes and small pellets and are overall very opportunistic when it comes to food. They can be very shy and are not necessarily a fish you will see confidently exploring the tank. With a large enough tank, these gobies have successfully been kept in groups as long as there is enough rock structure for each one to have its own territory.
Flaming prawn gobies
The flaming prawn goby is one of the most beautiful species in this hobby and are somewhat difficult to come across. Due to their small size, it is usually recommended to place them in a small aquarium to prevent larger fish from picking at their flamboyant fins. These gobies only reach an inch in size and have a peaceful temperament. It can be trained on frozen food but will always appreciate the tank having a supply of live copepods that they can hunt throughout the day. The flaming prawn goby has a white body with orange and red detailing all across it. It has a dramatic dorsal fin that it displays along with its side fins.
This fish is a stunning addition to any nano tank and is completely reef-safe. You may find it spending its time scurrying across the substrate displaying its large fins. It can be shy when first added to the aquarium but will eventually become the star of the tank.
It is crucial to drip acclimate them properly to avoid any sort of shock. As a shop manager I have only come across these fish on my lists a handful of times, so if you plan on requesting them at your local fish store, please be aware that it may take a couple of months for them to locate one for you!
The rusty goby or “upside down” goby is an interesting and captivating addition to any nano tank because as its name suggests, it hangs out upside down. They only reach an inch to an inch and a half in size and have a docile temperament. They get along with most fish; however, they can easily be picked on by larger fish due to their small size. It is better to either keep them in a nano tank or with other docile fish. Even a large tang may mistake this fish for food so it is always a risk when housing a small goby with larger fish. Rusty gobies spend their time perched underneath the rock structure waiting for an opportunity to snatch up any food that comes close to them. They are very shy and tend to scurry into hiding when you approach your tank so it is best to observe them from a distance.
They readily eat frozen food and are easily trained on flakes and small pellets. Once they grow accustomed to feeding time you will this find nano saltwater fish hovering around their hole that they hide in waiting for you to feed. They quickly dart back and forth between grabbing food and going back to their hole and it is very entertaining to watch them during this process.
Geometric pygmy hawkfish
The geometric pygmy hawkfish is the largest and boldest fish on this list. These nano saltwater fish reach two inches in size. However, they are a very sought after addition to any aquarium due to their large personalities. They are very intelligent and are always the first fish to come and greet you when you approach the tank.
These fish perch themselves on the rock structure and sometimes will even perch themselves on coral. The only downside is their aggression towards other fish that hang out around the same portion of the water column as them. It is recommended that they be the only bottom-dwelling fish in the aquarium. Hawkfish are in general very territorial and can be known to pick on any fish that enters their territory. The geometric pygmy hawkfish is the least aggressive of all the hawkfish but it is still something to keep an eye on, especially in a nano tank. They are however considered to be “reef-safe with caution” (sometimes they pick on invertebrates due to curiosity and hunger).
When adding any of these nano saltwater fish to your tank, it is crucial that they are compatible with any other tank mates you decide to add. Some of these fish may do best on their own; with the small amount of space, they can be stressed out easily if the tank is improperly stocked. Always consider what would be in the best interest of the fish. If you give them the proper environment, you will get to see their personalities shine.